Netanyahu's European tour brings hope to Israel-Palestine peace process
www.chinaview.cn 2009-08-28 18:07:29   Print

    BRUSSELS, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- During his latest trip to Britain and Germany, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his country would reopen peace talks with the Palestinians in one or two months, signaling a fresh chance for the stalled Middle East peace process.

    During his trip, Netanyahu met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Netanyahu said he is ready to have peace talks with Palestinian leaders without any preconditions.

    "COINCIDENCE" IN TIMING

    Netanyahu's announcement seemed carefully timed to respond to Palestine's latest message.

    On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Slam Fayyad released a plan, announcing that Palestine would take practical steps to build a de facto Palestinian state regardless of the outcome of Palestine-Israel peace talks.

    Under the 65-page plan, the Palestinian authorities would intensify efforts to put state institutions and the basic systems into place, complete the construction of infrastructure, and enforce the security forces.

    The plan, which covers various aspects of Palestine's political, economic and social life, is aimed at establishing a de facto Palestinian state in mid-2011.

    In 1993, late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, which rekindled the hope for lasting peace in the region. After Rabin's assassination and Arafat's death, however, the peace talks, which continued off and on, eventually failed to yield significant progress.

    After U.S. President Barack Obama has completed his direct talks with key players in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the world is waiting to see the new Middle East policy of the Obama administration. Palestine-Israel peace talks are entering a crucial new stage.

    With their respective announcement, Palestinian and Israeli leaders seemed to herald a fresh opportunity in peace talks. There are media reports that both sides are likely to take more actions before or after the U.N. General Assembly scheduled for September.

    PRESSURES FROM INSIDE AND OUTSIDE

    At a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November, 2007, Palestinian and Israeli leaders vowed to restart peace negotiations to establish an independent Palestinian state that will live in peace with Israel.

    However, as the two sides were too far apart on many key issues, they failed to make tangible progress in peace talks, and Israel's 22-day "Cast Lead" air strikes on Gaza last December plunged the talks into a deadlock.

    Over the past years, various Israeli governments have resorted to different tactics in the Arab-Israeli peace process, but a lasting peace in the region remains a distant dream.

    To many Israelis, the United States seems too busy setting its own house in order to be deeply involved in others' affairs. So, they need a tough guy like Netanyahu to ensure Israel's security. And that is why Netanyahu advocated only "economic peace," but not an independent Palestinian state.

    However, to create necessary conditions for resuming peace talks, the Obama administration has asked Israel to halt Jewish settlements construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

    Throughout his European tour, Netanyahu got similar messages from European leaders: Israel should unconditionally halt all settlement construction.

    HALFWAY COMPROMISE

    Under the pressures from all sides, Netanyahu chose a halfway compromise by announcing the resumption of Middle East peace talks in one or two months.

    However, he said nothing about whether Israel would make concession to Palestinians and how much.

    He also evaded the key issue of Jewish settlements, the major obstacle to peace talks, despite some reports that Israel is willing to halt the settlement construction for six to 12 months.

    Netanyahu's gestures in his European visit offered some hope for Middle East peace talks, yet the prospect for renewed peace process is still unpredictable, as all the thorny issues remain unsettled, such as the status of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements, and the return of Palestinian refugees. Each one of these issues may well present some insurmountable obstacles to the peace process.

    As Middle East is at a crossroads, all parties involved need to take their responsibility, enhance mutual trust and make necessary concessions with wisdom, patience and greater courage, so that all countries in the region can live in lasting peace.



Europeans endeavors to help advance Israeli-Palestinian peace process

    JERUSALEM, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- No sooner had the plane of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched down on Friday from his visit to Britain and Germany than his office was already working on his next European trip.

    If the success of this week's trip is to be measured by return invites, then Netanyahu has already notched up a 50 percent success rate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly asked Netanyahu to visit Berlin once again in the near future. Indeed, Netanyahu's office is reportedly already working on the details of that trip, along with a stop in Moscow. Full story

Editor: Deng Shasha
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